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Peden v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 11, 2014

ROVENTAY TREMAINE PEDEN A/K/A ROVENTAY TRAMAINE PEDEN A/K/A ROVENTAY T. PEDEN A/K/A ROVENTAY TRAMIAINE PEDEN, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

Page 632

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: NESHOBA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/12/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MARCUS D. GORDON. TRIAL COURT CONVICTED OF POSSESSION OF COCAINE AND SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WITH CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED.

FOR APPELLANT: EDMUND J. PHILLIPS JR., CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES, ROBERTS AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. MAXWELL, J., CONCURS IN PART AND IN THE RESULT.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

Page 633

BARNES, J.

¶1. Roventay Tremaine Peden appeals his conviction for possession of cocaine and sentence of seven years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Police received a tip from a confidential informant that two black males were selling cocaine out of a room at the Western Motel in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Police obtained a search warrant and raided the room. Peden and Lewis Clemons were in the motel room; both men were lying under the covers in separate beds. Police found a small bag of cocaine in Clemons's pocket. Another bag containing rocks of crack cocaine was located on a table between the two beds. This bag was approximately six inches from Peden's bed and within arm's length of Peden. Both men were indicted for possession of cocaine in an amount of at least 0.1 gram and less than 2 grams. Clemons pleaded guilty and testified at Peden's trial that the bag on the table was not Clemons's.

¶2. During trial, Peden moved for a directed verdict, which was denied by the circuit court. Peden was convicted and sentenced to seven years in the custody of the MDOC, with credit for time served. Peden filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, a new trial. The circuit court denied the motion, and Peden now appeals his conviction and sentence. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.

I. Whether the circuit court erred in denying Peden's motion for a directed verdict.

¶3. " A motion for a directed verdict . . . challenge[s] the sufficiency of the evidence." Collins v. State, 97 So.3d 1247, 1250 (¶ 10) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012) (citing Bush v. State, 895 So.2d 836, 843 (¶ 16) (Miss. 2005)). It is undisputed that Peden was not actually in possession of the cocaine. Therefore, in order to sustain the conviction, the State was required to prove that Peden constructively possessed the cocaine.

¶4. Constructive possession of drugs " may be shown by establishing that the drugs involved were subject to [the defendant's] dominion or control." Glidden v. State, 74 So.3d 353, 355 (¶ 5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010) (quoting Curry v. State, 249 So.2d 414, 416 (Miss. 1971)). " Proximity is usually an essential element, but by itself is not adequate in the absence of other incriminating circumstances." Id. (quoting Gavin v. State, 785 So.2d 1088, 1093 (¶ 16) (Miss. Ct. App. 2001)).

¶5. Peden contends that his proximity to the cocaine was the only evidence of the ownership of the bag. He claims that Clemons rented the motel room, making him the " owner" of the premises. However, Clemons had his own bag of cocaine in his pocket. It is reasonable to infer that the bag next to ...


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